We feature various icons of sports in this series, and this fabled quarterback perfectly fits the mold. In fact, with the Pack’s 4-0 start to the 2020 NFL season, it seems most appropriate to feature the late Bart Starr. There aren’t many athletes that are revered the way he is, especially among Green Bay Packers fans. A legend forever sporting the Pack’s green-and-gold, the first-ballot Hall of Famer passed away on May 26, 2019 at the age of 85.
Not all legends hit the ground running in their early playing days. The same can be said for Starr. Selected in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Starr began his NFL journey as a backup. He then split the starting role with Babe Parioli through the 1958 season. It wasn’t until 1959 when Vince Lombardi took over Green Bay’s head coaching that Starr was named the starting QB over Lamar McHan. The 6′ 1″ signal-caller would not relinquish that title for the next 12 seasons.
The next season, Starr led the Packers to the NFL Championship game, ultimately losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-13. But Starr’s Packers powered through the next two years, capturing the 1961 and 1962 NFL titles, and then doing it again in ’65. But Starr’s legacy was cemented when he led Green Bay to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in SB I and II (Jan. ’67 and Jan. ’68), where he was also crowned Super Bowl MVP in as many games.
Starr decided to hang up his cleats before the 1972 season was underway. The 38-year-old former quarterback, who regularly called plays during his playing days, then set out on his coaching journey – though his coaching days ended with a disappointing 52-76-2 regular season record.
An underwhelming coaching stint wasn’t enough to undermine Starr’s accolades as a decorated quarterback, as the gunslinger is practically deified in Green Bay. Propelled by 24,718 yards and 152 career touchdowns – not to mention an impressive 57.4 completion percentage – Starr was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. Collectors share the same reverence for his trading cards, especially his iconic 1957 Topps issue.
Let’s celebrate this acclaimed quarterback and take a look at his 16-card Basic Set.
As his only recognized rookie card, 1957 Topps is Bart Starr’s most celebrated and sought-after issue, and it is one of three keys to a power-packed set. Though the Johnny Unitas rookie might get more notoriety, Starr’s 1957 issue still commands top dollar in high grade. In terms of condition issues, centering and print defects commonly afflict cards from the set, which makes high-grade examples an extremely difficult catch. Just three PSA Mint 9 examples reside within the PSA Population, with no PSA 10s. PSA 9 examples can command upwards of $125,000.
In attempting to put together Starr’s 16-card Basic Set checklist on the PSA Set Registry, this is the most heavily weighted card (10.00). As you can see, it also boasts the most trading card value to an auction. Weights are determined by the card’s secondary market value using a scale from 1.00 to 10.00 with 10.00 being the most expensive. Using three different PSA grades for the card, here are its current industry average auction prices:
PSA Good 2: $314.39
PSA Excellent 5: $539.67
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $7,425
For Starr’s sophomore issue, Topps framed the gunslinger in Packers green and further enhanced the cheese head theme by featuring the quarterback’s name in yellow. What a fitting card design for a cherished Green Bay quarterback. In this posed shot, a helmetless Starr just received the ball and looks downfield. Yes, Jim Brown’s rookie card is the clear-cut key to the set, but plenty of collectors wouldn’t mind adding a second-year Starr to their collection. Collectors may notice the uncorrected error on the card’s back, which mixes up the quarterback’s yearly and career stats within the “Passing Records” section. Collectors will also be pleased to see that this card is much more affordable than his rookie released the year prior.
PSA Good 2: $26
PSA Excellent 5: $65.47
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $541.56
From Packers green to an unmistakably pink burst, Topps made some key design changes from 1958 to 1959. Aside from the visual shout in the form of the pink background, Starr’s pose, name and position callouts are all different. The helmetless Starr is posing in a throwing position he probably never emulated in game time (think Statue of Liberty), with an animated quarterback figure hovering over his right shoulder. Centering again poses a problem with this colorful card.
PSA Good 2: $21
PSA Excellent 5: $49.98
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $336.66
No posed throwing motion, no side-by-side, just a profile shot of the quarterback looking particularly no-nonsense. You’ll also notice that this is the lone card featured in this entry that doesn’t showcase some color swatch or design element in the background – just a bright, sunny sky. As the most affordable Starr card depicted in this entry, this card isn’t without its condition woes. Centering issues, print flaws and the fragile green borders on the back can all make for a tough time in the grading room. Still, a PSA 8 can be yours for $130. Considering it’s a Starr card set during a time when the quarterback was on top of his game, that’s not a bad deal.
PSA Very Good-Excellent 4: $23.61
PSA Excellent-Mint 6: $44.02
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $130.18
Bart Starr Cards Required to Complete the Set
(with PSA weights included)
- 1957 Topps #119 Bart Starr (10.00)
- 1958 Topps #66 Bart Starr (4.00)
- 1959 Topps #23 Bart Starr (3.00)
- 1960 Topps #51 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1961 Fleer #88 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1961 Topps #39 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1962 Topps #63 Bart Starr (4.00)
- 1963 Topps #86 Bart Starr (3.00)
- 1964 Philadelphia #89 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1965 Philadelphia #81 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1966 Philadelphia #88 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1967 Philadelphia #82 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1968 Topps #1 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1969 Topps #215 Bart Starr (2.50)
- 1970 Topps #30 Bart Starr (1.50)
- 1971 Topps #200 Bart Starr (1.50)
Browse through images of each card in the set in the photo gallery section of the PSA Set Registry.
Starr certainly left a profound mark on the game. He did enough during his time as the Packers starting quarterback to firmly establish himself among the game’s greats, even though his short tenure as coach didn’t nearly live up to the success of his playing days.
His cards go toe-to-toe with other key cards of the era, and his 1957 Topps rookie card is one of the most celebrated football issues in the hobby. Visit the PSA Set Registry and start your Bart Starr collecting journey.
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